Spatial-temporal changes of coastal and marine disasters risks and impacts in Mainland China
China is amongst the countries most severely affected by coastal and marine disasters. In this study, the annual variation and geographic distribution of the direct economic losses and fatalities caused by rapid-onset coastal and marine disasters in China have been analysed. This was based on a collection of historical documents and official records. The five main hazards include storm surges, rough seas, sea ice, red tides and green tides. The results show that: (1) Storm surges caused the most economic losses (92% of the total); (2) At national scale, direct economic losses induced by coastal and marine disasters fluctuated with no clear trend; the number of fatalities per year declined, and in relative terms both economic losses and fatalities decreased dramatically throughout time; (3) Substantial heterogeneity exists across the 11 provincial-level administrative regions in terms of the spatial pattern and temporal trends of coastal and marine hazards, exposure, vulnerability and observed impacts. Guangzhou, Fujian, Zhejiang and Hainan provinces experienced the highest direct economic losses and fatalities due to repeated typhoon-induced storm surges. The decline in adverse impacts caused by hazards is due to substantial progress in coastal and marine disaster prevention and migration in China, largely thanks to institutional measures, plus adaptation and mitigation actions at both national and regional levels. Coastal China still faces growing risks due to socio-economic development, climate change, as well as subsidence and new emerging marine disasters (e.g. green tides). Further management needs to promote integrated solutions across socio-economic development, disaster risk reduction and environmental conservation in coastal regions. This should happen at national and international levels as disasters can affect neighboring countries, and their marine environments and socio-ecological systems. Lessons may be learnt from countries experiencing similar problems over the long-term.